Raiders defeat Patriots 6-3 in conference clashMay 8, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Baseball fans were treated to a little bit of everything when the Southridge Raiders collided with the Heritage Hills Patriots yesterday. There were athletic plays in the field, close calls at the plate, and even a few wild pitches as the two PAC conference rivals went at each other. However, the Raiders were able to use aggressive base running and timely swings as they edged out the Pats for the 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Raiders (11-4, 3-2) coach Gene Mattingly called it a solid outing as his players used almost all the tools at their disposal in their win the Patriots (13-4, 5-1). Not only did the boys get hits at the right times, but they also seized windows of opportunity that were manifested through errors in the field.
“That was six innings of really good baseball,” he said “We did what we needed to do to win. We put the ball in play, did a little small ball, took advantage of some things with balls in the dirt. We were really aggressive and I liked it.”
Both teams went saw their first three batters get knocked down to start the game, but the Raiders gained the upper hand in the second inning. First sophomore starting pitcher Chase Taylor connected for a double. Junior catcher Conner Oxley followed suit with a second double to score senior courtesy runner Patrick Sander for the Raiders’ first run.
But the Patriots were quick to tie it up. Senior center fielder Nathan Lamar led the top of the third inning off with a base hit and advanced to second base after a sacrifice bunt from sophomore shortstop Cole Neighbors. Lamar then stole third base after a pitch got past Oxley at the plate, and finally completed his lap after junior starter Simon Scherry hit a single. However, the stalemate would be brief.
In the bottom of the third freshman second baseman Carter Whitehead took first following a single. Senior center fielder Tucker Schank hit for two bases and sent Whitehead over to third. Then sophomore third baseman Camden Gasser brought in Whitehead with a single and Schank came in shortly after thanks to a wild pitch during sophomore shortstop Colson Montgomery’s at-bat. And just like that the Raiders posted a 3-1 lead.
But then the Patriots would accomplish a novel feat on their way to tying the game up once again. Both Neighbors and junior designated hitter Murray Becher drew walks, and they advanced to third and second respectively after Scherry hit into a force out play at first base. Then a wild pitch during senior first baseman Grahm Turner’s at-bat allowed Neighbors to cut the lead to one run. History would repeat itself in short order during senior right fielder Noah Chestnut’s turn at the plate, as another wild pitch allowed Becher to come in and tie up the ballgame without the Patriots recording a hit in the top of the fifth inning.
But right on schedule the Raiders answered back to seize the game. Neukam led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and was replaced by Sander on first base. He would be joined on the base paths by Whitehead after a base hit. Then Schank clipped a single for his second hit in the game and drove in Sander; a walk from Gasser loaded the bases. Montgomery singled to bring in Whitehead and give the Raiders a 5-3 lead. Then during Weston Allen’s at-bat Schank took note of Chestnut, who pitched in relief of Scherry, and found a window in his windup pattern to run in on home plate.
“I noticed he was pitching from the windup and not the stretch,” he said. “It’s on my bucket list to steal home plate. So I asked coach what are the odds you let me do that. He thought about it for a second, said alright, so I did. It was pretty cool.”
Schank took off fearlessly and his inspired call put the final run on the game to seal the win for the Raiders.
Taylor pitched three innings and finished with two hits and one run. Allen pitched two innings for one hit, two runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. Wes Keusch and Ethan Bell pitched one inning apiece and finished with a combined one hit, one walk, and a strikeout. Schank finished 2-for-4 with one RBI. Montgomery, Gasser, and Oxley each also drove in a run.
Scherry pitched four innings and finished with seven hits, five runs, one run, and five strikeouts. Chestnut and Neighbors each pitched one inning and combined for three hits, one run, and one strikeout. Scherry also went 2-for-4 with and RBI.
“We didn’t play bad, but they hit it when they needed to,” said Scherry. “We hit it but they just didn’t fall, we have to do a better job.”
Patriots coach Andy Fisher thought his team came out a bit flat, but he gave credit to the Raiders for keeping the Patriots on their heels with the bats. Fischer chalked up the game as one of those outings where things simply don’t go your way, but he didn’t think it would discourage his team, which had won five straight going into Tuesday evening.
“Southridge strung some hits together and put our back against the wall,” he said. “You get a little reality check when a game like this happens. We just learn from it and try to get better.”
For the Raiders the game marked their sixth win in their last seven outings, and even though that in itself is cause for celebration it meant a little bit more to the team as they dedicated the senior night festivities to their late classmate Lexi Mattingly who passed away from complications related to a congenital heart defect two years ago.
“It’s very special,” said Mattingly, her father. “We do this night in remembrance and pay a tribute to Lexi. It was special this year because these were her classmates. I told the team play tonight to be thankful, appreciative, and not take things for granted. Take advantage of tonight and go out, have fun, and play hard. I think they did that and I’m super proud of them for that.”
“We were playing for something bigger than ourselves tonight,” added Schank. “It was very rewarding to see us come out with a lot of intensity all the way through.”
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